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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2008

Carrie Underwood bringing her act to SeaGate Centre

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Carrie Underwood - with opening act Jason Michael Carroll - will play Toledo for the first time. Tickets for the June 10 show at the SeaGate Convention Centre go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. They'll be available at the SeaGate box office, 401 Jefferson Ave., at Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 419-474-1333. Prices range from $35 to $55.
Carrie Underwood - with opening act Jason Michael Carroll - will play Toledo for the first time. Tickets for the June 10 show at the SeaGate Convention Centre go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. They'll be available at the SeaGate box office, 401 Jefferson Ave., at Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 419-474-1333. Prices range from $35 to $55.
MARK J. TERRILL / AP Enlarge

This is how successful Carrie Underwood has been since she first strolled into the American Idol spotlight three years ago, wearing a pink shirt and a shy smile and exuding quiet Oklahoma charm:

Even cranky, sarcastic Simon Cowell liked her. "I think you're very good," he said at the end of her audition for the 2005 edition of Idol, later giving a number of high-profile interviews in which he raved about her likability and talent.

She won the competition, of course, and embarked on a career that vaulted her from helping her dad feed cows in Chekotah, Okla., to becoming one of this decade's most refreshing music superstars in any genre.

And this summer Underwood - with opening act Jason Michael Carroll - will play Toledo for the first time. Tickets for the June 10 show at the SeaGate Convention Centre go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. They'll be available at the SeaGate box office, 401 Jefferson Ave., at Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 419-474-1333. Prices range from $35 to $55.

Her story is almost comically wholesome - even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals likes her and called her "The World's Sexiest Vegetarian" a few years ago - and if it wasn't true, it might sound like a work of fiction.

It goes like this:

She grew up on a farm near tiny Chekotah, singing in church, and performing at typical small-town America gigs like Lions Clubs, festivals, and fairs. Not content to simply sing, she learned to play guitar and piano, but that didn't keep her away from her school work because she also was salutatorian of her high school class.

She attended a community college and planned to get a degree in broadcast journalism, but the successful American Idol audition derailed her from a life of reading news stories on TV - no doubt she would have been good at it, too - and put her on track for a wildly successful musical career.

Blessed with beauty and charm, Underwood, 24, conveys a natural sunny vibe that never ventures into the ditzy country corn of Jessica Simpson or vapid sheen of any number of manufactured girl groups that pop up on the music radar and quickly disappear.

Her debut disc, "Some Hearts," contained a couple of steam-rolling hits, notably "Jesus Take the Wheel" and the pop/country crossover "Before He Cheats." The latter even cooked up a little controversy because of its overt revenge fantasy theme that is either gratuitously violent or empowering, depending on your point of view.

The album sold more than 6 million copies and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 and No. 1 on the country charts.

Underwood was a star. But just to make the story better, in the midst of her rise, she went back to college and completed her degree, scored big with the PETA people, and made a few return trips to perform on Idol.

The followup to "Some Hearts," last year's "Carnival Ride," was more of the same both musically and in its chart success, but with a bit more emphasis on power ballads. It was No. 1 on all the important charts and allowed Underwood to secure her spot as this decade's successor to Faith Hill and Shania Twain.

She even dated a Dallas Cowboys quarterback - Tony Romo - and her love life was the subject of a two-page spread in People magazine when she broke up with Gossip Girl actor Chace Crawford.

Now that's success.

Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.



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